Sleep apnea

CPAP’s side benefit: Treating depression


By Gina Roberts-Grey


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) isn’t just tied to snoring, heart disease risk and other health concerns—it’s also linked to an increased risk of depression. That’s according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), which noted that Stanford researchers found people with depression to be five times more likely to suffer from OSA.


But there’s good news for those diagnosed with depression: Treating OSA with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may improve symptoms of both.


Several studies, including a recent one conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, have shown that using CPAP can result in significant and long-lasting improvement of depression. For patients using a CPAP device more than four hours nightly, their symptoms of depression, such as irritability, feeling hopeless and trouble sleeping, were dramatically reduced.


“The score improvements remained significant even after taking into account whether a patient was taking an antidepressant,” said Charles Bae, M.D., head investigator of the study, in a news release. “The improvements were greatest in sleepy patients who used CPAP exactly as prescribed, but even those who didn’t adhere strictly saw improvements.”


“Getting a good night’s sleep is protective of the brain,” said National Alliance on Mental Health Medical Director Dr. Ken Duckworth in a statement. “Evidence suggests that good sleep and a regular routine help protect against the recurrence of mania.”


If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with depression, consider how sleep may play a role in treatment and whether you or your loved one may be at risk for OSA.


To assess your risk, take Philips’ Save the Pillows quiz. Then discuss the results and possible risk factors for depression and/or sleep apnea with your doctor.

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